I visited San Francisco again this past weekend! Upon arriving late Friday afternoon, I went straight to Casa de Paz, an intentional community in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. There I met my friend Miyuki. The residents of the house were cooking a vegan meal for Friday evening meditation, which I wasn’t going to be able to stay for. Miyuki showed me the amazing gardens, and then we sat on the front steps and caught up. Occasionally someone from the neighborhood would walk by, and I’d try to follow as Miyuki chatted with them in Spanish.
On Saturday, I went to the Bay Area Book Festival with Miyuki, our friend Andrew, Miyuki’s Google linguist friend, and Miyuki’s friend Jonah. All of us but the Google linguist went to Swarthmore.
Wandering through the booths, we were hailed by another Swarthmore alum, Books! Books was working for the festival, doorkeeping or some such for an Irish writers panel that included Colm Tóibín (!).
On Radical Row, Andrew was beguiled by a deal at the Small Press Distribution booth whereby he could choose a free book if he wrote a poem. After much thought, he penned an eight-line poem with end rhyme about the cockatoo. Hovering at this booth, I noticed A Bestiary by Lily Hoang and, after leafing through it, decided to buy it.
Pictured above is Lacuna, an art installation/giant free library set up in a park at the southern end of the festival. Miyuki discovered a Taiwanese children’s book that weirdly featured both bopomofo and a lot of erhua. Andrew found Chieh Chieng’s A Long Stay in a Distant Land and offered it to me. It looked interesting, so I took it.
On Monday, my friend Leland and I walked through Chinatown, stopping at a bakery for some pork buns, and then spent a long time in City Lights Books. From there, we took a look inside Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and then walked to the Coit Tower. We admired the New Deal-era murals, and I particularly noticed this particular section of one:
There’s this one passage in Sparkers:
He limps to the nearest machine and sits down at it. “This is a linotype machine.”
In front of him is something like a typewriter keyboard. He peruses my scribbles and begins to type. To his left, little blocks of metal engraved with letters begin to form lines of text.
Leland and I took the elevator up to the top of the tower and took in the views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.
Leaving the Coit Tower, we wandered through the neighborhood and stumbled upon Schein & Schein, a map/antique print shop. It was magical. We lingered there so long we ran out of time to get artisanal ice cream.